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Online Writing Workshops

Online Writing Workshops offer an effective way for writers to improve their writing and prepare it for writing success. Read about the advantages of these writing development sites and what to look for to find a productive one.

The Benefits of Using an Online Writing Workshop

The image one has of a writer is of a solitary, lone person, tucked away in the basement of their house typing away on an IBM or an old manual typewriter. While the technology has changed so that writers no longer need to clack away, a writer's life is still in many ways a solitary one. It doesn't need to be and by joining others in an online writing workshop, writers can not only receive motivation and camaraderie in this most difficult of professions, but significantly improve their manuscript.

Writers, editors, and publishers who aspire to produce commercially successful work almost always skip a fundamental step that is used extensively on other consumer driven areas – product testing. Imagine conceiving, developing, investing and marketing a product without ever getting feedback from the customers who will ultimately purchase and use the product.

Without using an online writing workshop, the first time that a potentially paying reader gets to see the book is when it has been printed and on sale. At this point, any feedback from the reader that might have improved the book cannot be used and if the book has serious flaws from a reader standpoint, it simply won’t sell.

How Online Writing Workshops Can Solve this Problem

The growth of the Internet has created a mechanism for writers and readers to change the writing process by receiving feedback from their peers and from readers in a next generation online writing workshop. These beta readers can provide a fresh set of unbiased opinions, raise questions, offer suggestions, and provide key insight that a writer may not receive elsewhere. These online writing workshops or writing development sites provide fast feedback which can help a writer increase their chances of producing a winning manuscript. Best of all, a writer doesn't need to leave their home or change their schedule to participate. Online writing workshops run around-the-clock from anywhere in the world where a computer and an Internet connection are available. 

Getting Over Your Fear

Many writes have never had anyone other than a family member or a friend reading their work and are nervous about showing it to others. This is a perfectly common feeling. But if you do want to eventually publish your writing, it is one that you will need to overcome. An online writing workshop allows you to have your work read and critiques in a protected, friendly environment designed to support and improve your writing. In contrast, once your work is published, you open yourself and your work up to the thoughts and opinions of the general public, who can be harsh judges and critics. Better to learn and correct problems in private before the general public has a chance to sink their teeth into your writing. 

Plagiarism and Stolen Work

One of the criticisms of participating in an online writing workshop is the fear of plagiarism. While this fear is understandable, it is mostly overblown. Once a writer posts their work to an online writing workshop, there is a public record that the work is theirs as well as record of who viewed and commented on the writing. 

But most importantly, the biggest threat facing a writer is not that their work will be stolen, but that their work will never be good enough to be noticed or published. Indeed, writers will have to balance the perceived risk of plagiarism versus the benefits of receiving the type of feedback that may make their work more marketable.

What to look for in an online writing community

When looking for an online writing community, look for the following characteristics:

Online writing workshops and online writing development sites offer writers a better way of developing their stories. The speed of the feedback, the contact with other writers, and the motivation that others reading your work can provide mean that they will play an increasingly important role in a writer’s bag of tricks. 

Some Recommended Workshops:

TheNextBigWriter.com
Writer's Digest Online Writing Workshops
Zeotrope